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Inches Decide State Title

In one of the wildest finishes in West Virginia high school basketball’s recent memory, George Washington won the class AAA state title 55-54 over Wheeling Park Saturday.

It’s the second straight year Wheeling has lost in the state finals.

A back-and-forth first half ended with GW on top 33-30.

Wheeling Park’s defense buckled down in the third quarter and held the potent GW offense to only seven points. At that point, Wheeling led 45-40.

Coming into the fourth quarter, momentum was clearly on Wheeling’s side.

But GW went on a quick 5-0 run to tie it up at 45 with 6:27 left.

Wheeling countered with its own 5-0 run making the score 50-45 with 5:23 to go.

With 4:08 to go and Wheeling Park leading 52-47, the teams went cold.

Wheeling went scoreless for the next 3:08; meanwhile, GW scored only four points during that time.

That made the score 52-51 in favor of Wheeling with one minute remaining in the game. 

That’s when things got interesting.

With 47 seconds left, GW fouled Wheeling’s Bubby Goodwin. Goodwin then missed the front end of a one-and-one.

George Washington grabbed the rebound, pushed it up the floor and threw an alley-oop to senior star Tyquane Goard who threw down a two-handed dunk.

That made the score 53-52 GW with only 28 seconds left in the title game.

On its ensuing possession, Wheeling was called for a travel. 

Wheeling then called a timeout to talk things over.

When GW took the ball out, Wheeling left Goard wide open at the other end of the floor where he was fouled on a dunk attempt.

Goard calmly sunk both free throws putting GW ahead 55-52 with 15 seconds to play.

After a 30-second timeout, Wheeling took the ball up the floor and gave it to Bubby Goodwin in the corner. Goodwin double-pumped and put up a rainbow shot over the 6’8” Goard at the buzzer. The ball fell through the hoop and the game appeared headed to overtime.

But for the first time in state tournament history, referees reviewed the play to see if Goodwin’s foot was behind the three-point line.

This is only the second year refs have been allowed to review video. The rule stipulates that officials can review a play only when it is a game-deciding shot at the end of regulation or overtime. Referees are also permitted to examine only time on the clock or whether a shooter’s foot was on the line.

As officials huddled around a small monitor near center court, the crowd at the Charleston Civic Center fell silent. Only minutes earlier, the Civic Center Coliseum had been louder than at any time all week.

After several minutes, referees called both head coaches to center court to issue their ruling. They made the controversial decision that Goodwin’s foot was on the line, and George Washington was crowned state champion.

Wheeling was the last team GW lost to in the regular season but hadn’t beaten. Huntington and South Charleston beat GW earlier in the season, but GW avenged those losses. The win over Wheeling means GW beat every team it played this season.

Goard led GW with 19 points and nine rebounds. Nick Britton added 12.

Goodwin had a team-high 18 for Wheeling. Vondel Bell dropped 15 points in the losing effort.

Both teams shot well from the field. GW ended the game shooting 51.2 percent; Wheeling shot 47.6 percent fro the field.

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